bigstockphoto_Old_Clock_1922584

“Got any ideas for last-minute fundraising?”

I’ve been asked this question a LOT lately.

Everyone can hear the clock ticking.

We’ve got two weeks before 2014 is history.

And the prominent thought on the minds of many is “how do I get the most from the last days of the year?”

I’ve got good news.

Even with just a handful of days left, there are still several things you can do to get a bump in donations before New Year’s Eve.

Here are seven ideas for last-minute, year-end fundraising.

 

  1. Call to say “thanks”. The most powerful fundraising tool you have is sitting on your desk. Or in your pocket. Pick up the phone and call your top 10-20 best donors just to say “thanks.” If they haven’t yet made a gift this year, it’s a subtle reminder. If they have already given, you’re making a deposit into the relationship.
  2. Get them involved. Offer volunteer opportunities through the holidays,  7 Ideas for Last Minute, Year End Fundraising

    especially family-friendly ones. People love to do things that make them feel good, and volunteering can not only do that, but give folks a personal experience with your organization. You’ve got time to email out a call for volunteers or post something on Facebook.

  3. Hold an open house. Schedule an open house to let people come see what you’re doing. It doesn’t have to be fancy – you don’t even have to do refreshments. Just give people the chance to see the front lines of your nonprofit. If you’d rather not do an open house, let your supporters know you’ve got a couple of openings for private tours before the end of the year and see what happens. The folks who take you up on it are seriously interested in your mission, and are open to the potential to deepen the relationship.
  4. Pitch a story to the local news media. The week between Christmas and New Year’s is typically a slow news week. Reporters are looking for feel-good stories that they can create and load up now so they can take time off between those holidays. Reach out NOW to your local media and make it easy for them to say “yes” to your story. Pull together all the ‘who, what, when where’ details of the story along with a photo opp.
  5. Send an e-appeal campaign. The last week of the year is THE biggest for online donations. Reach out to your donors and supporters by emailing with a message that’s interesting and relevant. Send email #1 on Dec 26, email #2 on Dec 29, and email #3 on Dec 31. If this feels like too much email to you, don’t worry – it’s not. Keep the messages focused on how your nonprofit changes lives. This is NOT the time to ask for support for your annual fund (no one cares about your Annual Fund but you).
  6. Show up on Facebook. Plan what you’ll post and when on Facebook the last week of the year. Make sure to vary it a bit so you’re not constantly reminding people to make a year-end gift. It’s okay to do some of that, but mix it up with posts that show your organization in action, testimonials from happy clients, memes that make people laugh and your favorite quotes. Use plenty of graphics to keep it visually interesting. The Humane Society of the Tennessee Valley (HSTV) does a great job of mixing it up. Find them at www.Facebook.com/Humanesocietytennessee.
  7. Leverage relationships. Ask your supporters to invite their friends to join them in supporting your mission. You can easily accomplish this by adding it to the end of your email signature and by including it in your e-appeals. I did this with a client several years ago, and asked their Board members to forward the message out to their friends and contacts. We raised an additional $10,000 with that strategy.
Sleepy Staff

 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that good fundraising is based on relationships.

Good fundraising = sustainable, repeatable, comes-from-people-who-love-your-cause, not-working-yourself-silly, raising-craploads-of-money fundraising.

Building relationships requires ongoing communication with your donor.

When it’s done well, it’s interesting, timely, and relevant.

When done poorly, it’s boring and a huge turn-off.

I believe poorly-done communication is what causes donor attrition.

Think about it: when donors aren’t engaged or when they don’t feel good about giving money to your nonprofit, they go away and look for another group that will give them what they want.

Want to drive your donors away? Send them screaming for the hills? Never hear from them again?

 

Here are ten ways you can kill your fundraising by boring your donors to tears.

  1. Be ego-centric.  Talk more about your programs, your history, and your annual fund. Keep the spotlight on you. Keep it all inwardly focused.
  2. Show no passion. Be dry and mind-numbing. If you write at the last minute, you’ll be more likely to be bland and dull.
  3. Leave out the stories. Stories are interesting, keep our attention, and help us feel something. So definitely don’t include them. Besides, you’ve got privacy issues to worry about if you share a story.
  4. Use lots of mind-numbing statistics. You want to be sure people understand the full scope of your cause, right? Pile on the numbers! Oh, and include them in text – don’t put them in a chart or anything that makes them easier to read.
  5. Use lots of jargon, slang, and acronyms. Those industry terms will show how qualified your organization is.
  6. Be predictable and safe. Don’t push the envelope to make people feel a strong emotion like anger or compassion. Play it safe – vanilla is good. Say what you think your donor wants to hear.
  7. Use lots of big, fancy words and really long sentences. This will definitely show that you’re smart enough!
  8. Omit the outcomes. People should just trust that you’ll get the job done. No need to talk about results.
  9. Bury the lead. Make your reader work really hard to find the interesting morsels. Put the most important points at the very end of your articles or paragraphs.
  10. Leave them out of the club. Communicate in a way that affirms that donors aren’t part of the insiders of your nonprofit. That will clearly delineate “us” and “them.”

 

Okay, this is very tongue-in-cheek, but you get the picture? (PLEASE tell me you get it!)

I got a letter in the mail just yesterday from a nonprofit I barely know anything about. I think I met someone from there several years ago and we exchanged cards. Clearly, they’ve added me to their mailing list without my permission (which is a huge problem in itself!). So get this – I’m not currently a donor, have no clue what their mission is, and couldn’t tell you the last time I heard from them (maybe not ever). And a letter arrives asking me for money.

 

The letter has 3 short paragraphs that are all focused internally. Here’s the first paragraph (I’ll leave out the real name so as not to embarrass them):

“We believe “Name of Organization” is uniquely positioned for the greatest impact in our 10-year history as we enter the coming year. However we can’t do it alone.”

 

Really?

Who cares how you’re uniquely positioned? What great impact?

Even when I read the other two paragraphs, there’s nothing in there that gives me ANY reason to care or to send money. I still have no clue what they do, nothing has inspired me, and I have no idea what they’ll do with the money.

I am NOT moved to give them money. None.

In their defense, I just noticed the P.S. says “Be sure not to miss the enclosed “Ministry Highlights: sharing some of our impact stories. This is a good example of intention gone wrong. They expected me to read the entire package – letter, attachments and all.  I don’t have that kind of connection. They’ve done nothing to build a relationship with me such that I would read the entire piece.

 

So, do yourself a favor – take the learning from this article. Communicate regularly with your donors. Inspire them. Remind them they’re the hero and the reason you’re here doing good work. Keep it interesting and relevant.

I guarantee you’ll see more money coming in as a result.

Freeway sign in blue cloudy skies reading Success and Failure

In the nonprofit world, everything hinges on fundraising.

You’ve got to have money to deliver programs, right? Money keeps the lights on, the staff paid, and everything working.

So, what does it really take to be successful in fundraising? Knowledge? Skill? Connections? All those things are definitely helpful.

Yet there’s something else.

In his book “Outliers,” Malcom Gladwell says that “success is a function of persistence and doggedness.”  

Isn’t that really what success boils down to? Isn’t it all about the ability to hang in there when things don’t go as planned?

How many of us have real doggedness? That kind of “stick with it” attitude that doesn’t allow anything to blow you off track?

If you read the biographies of successful people, you’ll see that their stories are full of relentless persistence. For example:

  • Milton Hersey started 3 unsuccessful candy companies before succeeding.
  • Michael Jordan, the most famous name in basketball, was actually cut from his high school basketball team.
  • Steven Spielberg dropped out of high school and applied to attend film school three times, but was unsuccessful due to his C average.
  • Twelve different publishers rejected the first Harry Potter book. Even Bloomsbury, the small publishing house that finally purchased Rowling’s manuscript, told the author to “get a day job.”
  • As a young man, Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star Newspaper because his boss thought he lacked creativity!

 The Key Ingredient to Successful Fundraising

Here’s my point – Most of the time, success is about not giving up. 

It’s about hanging in there through setbacks and failures. It’s about staying focused on the reasons why your nonprofit’s mission matters.

 

Not everything is going to go perfectly all the time. That’s absurd to think that it will. It’s not “if” the failures will happen, but “when” they will. How you respond to them says a lot about who you are.

It’s time to let go of any myths of success that you might be hanging on to.

There are no overnight successes.  

“Get rich quick” is a lie.

Money doesn’t just flow in because your organization is nonprofit

Raising money and changing the world isn’t an easy job. There are lots of potholes in the road to success. But if you’re willing to hang in there when things get hard, you’ll have one of the most enjoyable, personally satisfying experiences of your life.

Some days, overcoming your own personal trials means that your nonprofit’s programs and services will continue to be delivered. I can remember several times when I have tried fundraising events or activities that just fell flat. It would have been easy to give up and throw in the towel. But instead, I chose to examine those experiences and look for the learning. Sometimes it was obvious and sometimes it wasn’t. Yet every time, I was able to move forward with more knowledge about how to improve the next time.

When I worked at the food bank, I figured out quickly that when I did my job well, people ate. And it was that simple to me. I knew I could let my own stuff get in the way or I could work through it, come out the other side, and ultimately raise more money. (Guess which option I chose?)

What we do matters. We change the world every day.

Don’t ever forget it. It might just help you get through the next time something doesn’t work out the way you want it to.

Giving Tuesday square

 

If you haven’t heard, #GivingTuesday is a big deal.

Let’s review the holidays toward the end of November:

  • Thanksgiving in the US (on a Thursday)
  • Black Friday (when people go crazy with retail shopping)
  • Cyber Monday (the biggest online shopping day of the year)
  • #GivingTuesday (designed to encourage giving)

#GivingTuesday is quickly becoming a big day for fundraising. People make donations online to their favorite charity or find another way to support their favorite cause, like volunteering or hosting a supply drive.

This video created by the folks at www.GivingTuesday.com will help you understand what #GivingTuesday is all about.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QKdgMdpcGY
 
Here are a couple of interesting facts about #GivingTuesday:

  • In 2013, over $10,000,000 was given to charity. That’s a lot of money in one day and it’s bound to be way more this year.
  • 60% of people giving online are new donors. This is HUGE! This means that most people who make a donation on that day are new to the nonprofit they’re supporting. That means #GivingTuesday can be a great source of new donors for you.
  • Nonprofits that participate in #GivingTuesday did twice as well in 2013 as those that did not. Seems like the groups that are on the ball and being very successful are participating in #GivingTuesday.
  • In 2013, the average #GivingTuesday gift size was $142. That means that people who give are giving big.

 
 Are You Ready to Rock #GivingTuesday
 
This year, #GivingTuesday is December 2. If you already have a plan for #GivingTuesday, great. If not, you STILL have time to spread the word that your nonprofit is a great cause for people to support.

Here are my recommendations for your #GivingTuesday promotion:

  1. Choose your message. What will your #Giving Tuesday message be? “Support us” won’t cut it. “Help us change more lives this holiday season” is better. Something very compelling that’s specific to your mission is best.
  2. Plan the promotion. Email your supporters and let them know about #GivingTuesday ahead of time. Create a great graphic and post it on Facebook. Graphics are WAY more sharable than straight text. Also post it on your website and any other social media you use. You can get the #GivingTuesday logo at www.GivingTuesday.org/tools
  3. Encourage your volunteers, staff, and Board to share the graphic. The more people who are sharing the #GivingTuesday message, the better.
  4. Put together a press release for your local media. Let them know you’re participating and what #GivingTuesday is. If they’re already planning a story, they may well include you in it.
  5. Be sure your “Donate Now” button works.  You don’t want to be caught with problems on your website! Make sure the site is ready for visitors, the donation button is easy to find, and that the auto-receipt that people receive is consistent with your nonprofit’s brand.
  6. Be ready to receive phone calls and emails. You may have people with questions about your organization, and you should be ready to answer them.
  7. Figure out how you’ll measure your success. How will you track the gifts that come in from #GivingTuesday? Is there a way you can post a specific link on your social media so that you can track the gifts that come in? If not, can you at least measure the gifts that arrive on Dec 2?

 

Links to #GivingTuesday resources

Ideas for ways to get others involved: http://www.givingtuesday.org/ideas/

Customizable graphics for #GivingTuesday: http://www.nonprofittoolkit.net/2013/11/28/givingtuesday/

More resources and worksheets: http://www.formomentum.com/givingtuesday.aspx

More videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/GivingTuesday

Unicorns
I bet you’ve done it.

I sure have.

We bought right into the myth without even realizing what we were doing.

What myth? The Myth of Boards. It goes like this: “People who sit on nonprofit Boards know what to do and they should help with fundraising.”

Think about it: how many times have you been frustrated with your Board because they won’t do their job?  They won’t help with your events. They won’t introduce you to their friends. They don’t seem to want to make eye contact with you when you start talking about fundraising.

You know what I’m talking about. There’s a reason they’re behaving this way. Let me explain.

People who say “yes” to serving on your Board are good-hearted people, and they probably love your mission.  In fact, they probably said “yes” because they want to help and they want to make a difference.

Unfortunately, they don’t know squat about serving on a Board.

Without a solid understanding, they’ll gravitate to whatever looks familiar, easy, or fun.  That’s why some want to talk about the napkin color for the upcoming gala, and others want to micromanage.  They’re in their comfort zone and they’re not planning on coming out.

When you expect your Board to help with fundraising when they don’t understand how good fundraising works, it’s like chasing a unicorn. You’re never going to catch it because it doesn’t exist.

Want to help your Board become a group of fired-up Ambassadors for your cause, and WILLING to help raise money? It’s pretty simple really. Teach them.

There’s no Board police to show up and write your Board members a ticket for not doing their job. If you want your Board to be different, you need to take the initiative and do whatever you need to do to help them learn to do their job well.

 Expecting Your Board to Fundraise is like Chasing a UnicornLike I always say, a little education goes a long way.
Teach them about their roles and responsibilities.  Help them understand what a Board does and doesn’t do. Explain fundraising to them in some simple terms that they can grasp. Show them you’re there to support them to be successful.

I know you may be annoyed at the thought of training your Board, but what happens if you don’t?  You can keep doing what you’ve been doing, and you’ll get what you always got.  If you want something different, you must DO something different.

I’m convinced that if you want to help more people, you need to raise more money.  And to do that, you need your Board to help.

You CAN have a great Board – a Board that raises money, spreads your message, advocates your mission, supports your staff and is fully engaged and excited about their role with the nonprofit.

Want more help moving your Board in the right direction? Check out my new (and free!) video series called “Build Your Best Fundraising Board Ever!” http://getfullyfunded.com/bestboardever/

RelationshipBuilding
Unless you’ve been under a rock, you know that relationships with donors are the key to long-term fundraising success.But if you’re like many, you just aren’t sure how to build those all-important relationships. Maybe you don’t know where to start. Or maybe you’re worried it’ll feel manipulative.

It’s not rocket science by any stretch. It’s about being considerate and polite. And it’s about building the relationship on purpose.

We’re all used to the way relationships naturally grow. Think about people you are close to. How did you meet? What did you do early in the relationship?

It seems to get weird when we’re doing it on purpose. But it doesn’t have to be.
Remember that you’re helping draw people closer to your nonprofit so they can be a bigger part of the work you’re doing to change lives. That’s all. As long as your intention is honorable, you have no reason to feel wonky about getting to know your donors.

The most successful nonprofits are the ones who have figured this out, and are working to engage their donors. I know you can do this, too.

Here are some of my best tips to build those critical donor relationships.

  • Focus on the right people.    Not everyone is your donor. Not everyone cares about your cause. If you try to build a relationship with someone who isn’t ideal, you’ll never see the results you really want. So spend time with people who are the best donors for your nonprofit and whose interests match your organization’s mission.
  • Don’t try to get married on the first date. Relationships take time to develop. People who come on too strong too early in the relationship are usually labeled “creepy.” Get to know your donor first before you ask her for a big commitment like giving you a chunk of money.
  • Build the Know, Like, and Trust factor. Help your donors and donor prospects get to know you and your nonprofit. Give them reasons to like you and what you’re doing. Share your dreams and vision, and why they matter. Then do everything you can to build trust, from giving and keeping your word, to showing you can manage money well. People give where they believe their money will be used wisely. No one gives to a cause they don’t like or trust.
    • Value the relationship over money. Don’t focus so much on the money that it becomes the driving force. People have built-in radar that goes on alert when someone isn’t genuinely interested in them. If you focus too much on the money, you’ll trigger that radar and then your chance at developing a lasting relationship is over. Think about it this way. If someone gives you a donation, you get money. This one time. If someone really cares about your nonprofit’s work and they want to partner with you, they’ll give again and again, and even put up with a fair amount of crap from you, because they care about the ultimate outcome of changing lives. From Lukewarm to Lightning Hot: Top Tips for Building Donor Relationships
  • Build relationships 1-to-many whenever you can.  It isn’t always feasible to get face-to-face with every donor. So it’s critical that you build relationships through your newsletter, social media, and anywhere else you can communicate in a mass way. However, you have to do it right. Make sure that whatever you share in those tools is relevant to the reader, meaningful, and full of emotion. And make it worthy of sharing. Otherwise, it’s dry and boring and you’ll turn them off faster than you can say ‘donor retention.’
  • Focus on them, not you. There’s a saying that “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” and it’s absolutely true in fundraising. Don’t talk about your organization. Instead, talk about the lives you are changing and why it’s important. Nonprofit materials and social media that are all focused on “we” and “us” aren’t engaging or interesting.
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The leaves are turning, the air is cooler, and you know what that means? It’s Fundraising Season!

Lots of nonprofits are ramping up their fundraising efforts and asking for donations, and rightfully so – it’s the best time of year for it.

If you’re not asking for a gift between now and the end of the year, you’re conspicuously absent. And you’ll get left out.

No one ever wakes up in the morning and says “I feel like giving some money away. Wonder if there’s a nonprofit I could give to?”

The responsibility is yours. It’s YOUR job to build the relationship and stay in touch. It’s YOUR job to ask for the gift.

By now, you should have your appeal all figured out. If you’re planning to mail a letter, it should already be on its way. But just in case you don’t, here are some tips you can follow to get the most from your fourth-quarter appeal.

  1. Clean up your mailing list. Don’t send your appeal to people who don’t want to hear from you anymore. A clean list, with the most current email and mailing addresses, will save you money and help you be more accurate in donor communications.
  2. Review past performance. How well have your past appeals done? How much did you raise? What was the average gift size? How about the response rate? Knowing these numbers can help you choose the right segments and lists to approach now.
  3. Be donor-focused. Don’t write an appeal that’s all about you. Don’t talk about how great the year was or how challenging it’s been – no one wants to hear that. Instead, tell a story about someone whose life has been changed by the work your nonprofit does. It’s way more interesting and engaging.
  4. Write to one person. As you write your appeal, don’t think about the hundreds of people who will receive it. Instead, picture one donor in your mind, and write to that one person. Your letter will be way more conversational and interesting.
  5. Outsource if needed. Don’t try to print and mail your appeal internally if you don’t have the resources. You’ll actually save money in the long run by having a reputable mail house prepare and send your appeal.
  6. Measure, measure, measure. Tag either the response card or the envelope if you’re sending a hard copy letter, or use a trackable link for an e-appeal so you’ll know if your ask worked or not. You need to measure response rate (the % of people who gave compared to the total number you asked) and average gift size at a minimum. There’s nothing worse than going to all the trouble to produce and send an appeal and not knowing if it was worth it.
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If you only had time to spend with just one donor, who would it be?

I bet you immediately thought about your top donor – the person who gives the most to your nonprofit.

If so, you’re about average. You’re just like everyone else who understands the 80/20 rule and how time should be spent with donors capable of making the biggest gifts.

What about everyone else? Don’t their gifts matter? Won’t some of them eventually become major donors, too?

There’s a HUGE inequality in how we treat our donors.

 

The Inequality of Attention

People who have historically given the biggest donations get all the attention. Other donors get scraps of your time, if anything. I call this the Inequality of Attention and it’s rampant across the nonprofit sector.

It’s born out of the notion that people who give the most money deserve the most time so that they feel adequately appreciated. There’s nothing wrong with that. Except that most people get so focused on their major donors that they almost ignore the rest of their donors.

I believe this is the root cause of the huge donor retention problem we’re seeing. This is what’s causing people to give once or twice then move on to another nonprofit.

Every dollar counts, doesn’t it? Doesn’t every gift matter?bigstock Balance 30579422 250x183 Should major donors really get all the love?

It certainly does when you’re looking at the budget. When you need money to keep the lights on, every bit is important. But when it comes to building relationships, there’s a definite inequality.

Let me tell you about Carol.

Carol is retired, a widow, and living on a fixed income. She’s given $50 to you every year for the past 5 years. She cares deeply about your cause. But unless she’s left you a big gift in her will, you’ll probably never realize the level of her commitment.

She’s flying under the radar. She may have way more that she could bring to the table if she just felt a little more connected to your organization. She might be the best volunteer you ever had or have strong connections with people who could make game-changing donations.

Doesn’t she deserve the same level of respect and gratitude as the person who gives $5,000 a year? Shouldn’t she get the same kind of appreciation and feel just as valued?

Most people doing fundraising are too busy to care. Or too busy to take the time to think through the things they can do to make a meaningful difference to each and every donor, especially those like Carol.

There have been many times that I have made significant gifts to nonprofits. Okay, they were significant gifts to me. Many were stretch gifts to causes that I whole-heartedly believed in. And nearly every time, I was disappointed when I barely got any thanks at all for my contribution. No recognition. No engagement. No deposits in the emotional bank account. I was just one of hundreds, and I felt it loud and clear.

Why do you think some people believe their gift won’t matter? It’s because they haven’t received any reason to think they DO matter.

Guess whose job it is to help them feel good about their donation and believe that they matter?

Yep. You.

If you don’t do something, who will? I know for a fact that if you don’t help them feel good about their experience of giving to your nonprofit, they’ll move on to the next nonprofit that looks interesting.

 

Giving is an emotional act.

The first gift is given in response to an emotional stirring someone feels. And it’s a test. If you pass, they’ll give again. If you fail, they’re gone.

People need to feel good about their experience with you. They need confirmation that they made the right decision to give your nonprofit money. They need to believe your nonprofit is trustworthy.

And it’s your job, nonprofit fundraiser, to help them get and keep those feelings.

Otherwise, they’ll go find another nonprofit that seems like they’re trustworthy, doing good work, and worthy of a donation.

With limited time in the day, the question becomes how do you give people a good experience and help them feel good about giving when you have to do it on a mass scale? How do you build trust when you’re not working one-on-one but one-to-many?

Donor retention numbers are horrible. If you’re keeping 30% of your donors from one year to the next, that’s considered good. (I think it’s horrible!)

Donor acquisition is expensive. Most nonprofits lose money trying to bring new donors on board.

Doesn’t it make more sense to spend time loving on current donors to keep them from leaving? Isn’t it much more efficient to slow down long enough to create a strategy for communication that strengthens the relationship and gives our donors a sense of confidence in us?

I think it does. I believe if you do what it takes to increase the positive feelings a donor has about their interaction with you, you’ll see a significant increase in retention and in total giving.

 

ICAN formula

Whose job is it to build relationships with donors? Yours. Can it be done one-to-many? Yes, it can.

Think about the last time you saw a commercial on TV or a video online that moved you so much you cried. It wasn’t done in a one-to-one format, was it? It was done one-to-many. It was created to give you the viewer a particular experience, then shared in a mass way. It was created with a single person in mind, and the emotional impact was likely felt by you and everyone else who saw it.

You can do this, too. You can give ALL your donors the experience of feeling valued and wanted, without getting face-to-face with every single one.

It takes strategy, planning, and a true understanding of your donors’ needs and wants. It takes time and some thought.

Let me give you a good starting place.

Here are four steps you can take to strengthen the bond, build trust, and ultimately keep people giving longer. All of these can be done one-to-many, and they will require you to slow down long enough to really plan everything out. Good relationships are never built in a hurry. They require thoughtfulness and effort.

Inspire. People need to feel something before they will give. Chances are good your nonprofit is doing amazing, heart-warming work. You’re changing lives (maybe even saving them) and if your nonprofit ceased to exist, it would leave a huge void.

So, share your story. Tell your supporters about the woman who couldn’t get to her kidney dialysis appointments if it weren’t for your transportation program. Talk about the 16-year old who would never learn how to hold down a job if it weren’t for your job skills training program. Share the struggle of a family living in squalor and what it means to them to have a shot at owning their own home. Talk more about why your nonprofit does what it does and less about how it gets done.  Should major donors really get all the love?

Confidence. People need to feel confident that your nonprofit can do the work you’re trying to do, that you can manage the money they give you, and that your people are trustworthy.

So, build confidence for your donor. This is not the time for an ego trip about how great and wonderful your nonprofit is. Trust is built is quieter ways. It’s built in openness. Ask people over for a tour. Invite donors to sit in on your Board meetings. Offer to share your financial statements. Give them the phone number and/or email of a specific staff person they can reach out to if they have ANY questions.

Openness builds trust and confidence. Show your supporters you have nothing to hide and everything to share.

Action. The more people get involved with you, the more connected they’ll feel. So, invite them to take action. When people volunteer and see first-hand the work your nonprofit is doing, they will start to see themselves as a part of the team. Listen for the pronouns to change – they’ll start saying “we could…” instead of “you should…”

Give people the opportunity to get involved. Offer plenty of ways they can volunteer that fit into their busy schedule. Invite them to serve on a committee if that interests them.

Invite them to take action that’s worth taking. Think about how millions of people jumped on board with the Ice Bucket Challenge this summer. It was something they could do and it was fun.

Not everyone will take you up on the chance to get more involved, but they’ll remember that you offered. It’s important and it builds trust.

Nurture. In order for relationships to grow, they must be nurtured. And nurturing is your job. You’re in charge of the care and feeding of your donors. It’s up to you to engage them and draw them closer.

Nurturing doesn’t happen by chance, and it’ll never happen when you’re operating in reactive mode. Create a plan for staying in touch with your donors and keeping them in the loop about the outcomes your programs are getting.

 

It’s time to stop ignoring donors.

You can engage people through newsletters and social media. You can help donors feel good about their experience through acknowledgment and stewardship.

It takes a conscious decision to do it, followed by a thoughtful plan of action.

Should your major donors get all the love? Nah, you’ve got enough for everyone. Spread that stuff around.